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How Jack Ma Turned Rejections Into An Inspiration to Establish the Largest E-commerce Company in The World




Rejections are always a part of human lives. Failure teaches us a lot of lessons to be able to face life more confidently. No matter how many times we fail, as long as we don’t give up and continue to persevere, we will achieve great success. Like what happened to the founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba, Jack Ma, he started from being a tour guide into becoming the richest man in China with a net worth of $61.4 billion. Let us uncover a truly inspirational story of Jack Ma’s life.

Who Is Jack Ma?

Ma Yun or most popularly known as Jack Ma was born on September 10, 1964, in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province in China. He is the middle child of Ma Laifa and Cui Wencai, he has an elder brother and a younger sister. He was born at a time when communism was still rising in China along with the other parts of the world, his parents were traditional musician storytellers and they struggled every day to make their ends meet. At a very young age, Jack always wanted to be able to speak English so every day he would ride his bike to a nearby park and give tourists a tour of his hometown. He became close friends with one of those tourists and that was how he got his nickname “Jack”. He received his bachelor’s degree in English at Hangzhou Normal University after going through many struggles. Before attending college, he failed the entrance exam multiple times, even his application to study at Harvard was rejected more than five times. And lastly, he admitted in an interview that when he applied to be a crew in KFC, he was the only one who was not accepted out of the 24 persons who applied. After graduating college, Ma taught English at the Hangzhou Institute of Electronics and Engineering with a pay of $12 a month.

Jack Ma’s Rise to Success

In 1994 he founded his first company, the Haibo Translation Agency, which provided English translation and interpretation. And after Jack Ma visited the US in 1995, for a Government undertaking project related to the building of highways, It was there that he was first introduced to the Internet and Computers. Computers were pretty rare in China during that time, given the high costs associated with them, they were practically non-existent. The first word he searched on the Mosaic browser was “Beer”, and it popped out results from different countries, but he could not find one from China. He then searched “China” and was surprised that not a single web page came out. When he returned, he founded his second company, the China Pages, which makes Web sites for Chinese businesses and was one of China’s first Internet companies. It became a huge success and a lot of investors were reaching out to him, wanting to get a hold of this new opportunity. It was that time Jack Ma realized that the internet has something great to offer. After two years of working with China Pages, he left the company because of his serious competitor the Hangzhou Telecom Company. These adversaries came one after another, instead of giving up, this made Jack Ma persevere even harder. After convincing his friends and family and borrowing a lot of money from many people, he launched the e-commerce platform – Alibaba which facilitated deals between small businesses. Ma was convinced that the small-business-to-small-business Internet market had much greater potential for growth than the business-to-consumer Internet market. Small businesses paid a membership fee to be certified as trustworthy sellers on Alibaba, with a greater fee being charged to businesses that wished to sell to customers outside China. After a while, people trusted the services that Alibaba has, and from then on Jack Ma’s company rose to become the largest e-commerce in the world, much larger than eBay and Amazon combined. In 2005, Alibaba’s success attracted the attention of the American Internet portal Yahoo!, which bought 40 percent of its total shares, and in 2007 Alibaba raised $1.7 billion dollars in its initial public offering (IPO) in Hong Kong.

In 2003 Ma created a new company, the consumer-to-consumer online marketplace Taobao (Chinese: “searching for treasure”). At the time, the American company eBay, in collaboration with the Chinese company EachNet, had a market share of 80 percent, but Ma felt that eBay-EachNet’s policy of charging users a transaction fee was a weakness. Taobao did not charge such a fee but made money from online advertising and the sale of additional services to users. Ma’s intuition proved correct; by 2007 Taobao had a 67 percent market share, and eBay conceded majority ownership of its Chinese operations to the Chinese-language media company TOM Group, which created the subsidiary TOM EachNet. In 2011 Ma announced that Taobao would split into three companies: Taobao Marketplace, where individuals could buy and sell goods; Taobao Mall, an online shopping portal; and eTao, a shopping-related search engine. In September 2014 the Alibaba Group debuted an IPO on the New York Stock Exchange that raised $21.8 billion. That IPO was the largest ever in the United States and gave the company a market value of $168 billion, the highest such value in IPO history at that time for any Internet company. In September 2018 it was announced that Ma would step down as chairman of Alibaba the following year, though he would remain on the board.

An Inspiring Individual

Now at age 56, Ma is more focused on his philanthropic works. His story is truly an inspiration to everyone who is struggling to achieve success. Everyone should emulate Jack Ma’s persevering attitude about life, that no matter how many times we experience failure, no matter how many adversaries come our way, we should never give up and work even harder on pursuing what we dream of becoming.

3 Tips on How to Become Successful Entrepreneurs From Jack Ma

“Never give up. Today is hard, tomorrow will be worse, but the day after tomorrow will be sunshine.”

“No matter how tough the chase is, you should always have the dream you saw on the first day. It’ll keep you motivated and rescue you (from any weak thoughts).”

“You need the right people with you, not the best people.”

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